Moisei Ginzburg, “Course Program: ‘Theory of Architectural Composition’” (1926)
From VKhUTEMAS, 1926, from the State Archives
of Literature and Art, TsGALI, Moscow:
I: The psychology of the creative process in architecture
1. The creative process as a result of the interaction between the external world of forms and the interior world of the artist. The three factors of the creative process. The nature of the influence from the external world of forms on the architect’s creative process.
2. The material world and its interpretation by the architect. The limits of creativity. The character of need. Material possibilities in creative work.
3. The external world as submitted to the legitimate interests of the artist. Objective and subjective factors.
4. The creative personality. The psycho-physical element. The abstract and cognitive element. The emphasis on abstract beauty. The interior world of the artist as a spiritual world. The philosophical dimensions of cognition. The abstract and formal field.
5. The evolution of architectural form. Its boundaries, aesthetic concerns, and decorative character. Creative conception and material realization.
II: Rhythm as the essence of architecture
1. The cosmic and universal character of rhythm. Active and dynamic rhythm, static rhythm.
2. The rhythm of a closed architectural form. Repetition and alternation. Harmony. The rhythm of symmetry. Arhythmia.
3. The rhythm of an architectural grouping of spatial forms. The quantitative influence of symmetry. Integration of the rhythm. Rhythms of progression and unifying rhythms. Architectural details as rhythmic sequences. Partial rhythms.
4. Mastery of rhythm. The mathematical essence of rhythm. Rhythmic modules and harmonic modules. Harmony.
5. Attempt at systematizing rhythm. The transcription of rhythms.
III: Architectural processes
1. Mass and the decorative element. The origin of mass. Its relationship to the organic structure. Its relation to the specific aesthetic solution of the problem. Subdivision of the mass. The decorative element.
2. The fundamental laws of rhythmic composition of masses. Vertical and horizontal forces. Collision of these forces and the various principles this generates: monumental, harmonious, rhythmic, picturesque. The vertical enlarged towards the base. Forms which tie space together: the parallelogram. Rounded forms: cylinder and cone. Complex forms.
3. Organic, aesthetic, and decorative styles.
4. The problem of monumentality. Sense of scale. Absolute measure. Theory of contrast. Massiveness. Textural treatment of walls. The use of illusory masses. The law of symmetry. Unity of the design, the coherence and limits of subdivision. Unity in the vertical development.
5. Harmony. The concept of harmony. The value of modulation of forms. Law of relationship of building elements: geometrical and numerical rules. The rule of three, the rule of simple numbers, ‘pure’ relationships, law of the Golden Section. Law of similar forms. Interconnection of forms and their independent values. Perfection of details.
6. Rhythm. The element of movement. The character of movement. The unity of rhythm across the space of an opening and in the mass of a solid wall. The rhythmic value of the column, piller, and pilaster. Accessories of rhythm. Horizontal and vertical rhythm. The development of problems in rhythm and their omplexity.
7. Picturesque expression. The concept of picturesque expression. Force and power in the action. Indeterminacy. The absence of boundaries and limits. Fortuitous elements. Optical symmetry and asymmetry. Richness of subdivisions. The value of light and shadow. Lighting. Choice and character of mouldings. The profile of the cornice. Emphasis.
8. The simultaneous solution of several problems. Monumental rhythm. Picturesque monumentality. Picturesque rhythm. Harmony.
9. Sculpture, painting, decorative, and applied art. Their roles in the resolution of architectural problems.